Detailed stratigraphic and sedimentological studies of the Tertiary Tongue River Member of the Fort Union Formation in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, and the Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation and Star Point Sandstone in the Wasatch Plateau, Utah, indicate that the depositional environments of coal played a major role in controlling coal thickness, lateral continuity, potential minability, and type of floor and roof rocks. The potentially minable, thick coal beds of the Tongue River Member were primarily formed in long-lived floodbasin backswamps of upper alluvial plain environment. Avulsion of meandering fluvial channels contributed to the erratic lateral extent of coals in this environment. Laterally extensive coals formed in floodbasin backswamps of a lower alluvial plain environment; however, interruption by overbank and crevasse-splay sedimentation produced highly split and merging coal beds. Lacustrine sedimentation common to the lower alluvial plain, similar to the lake-covered lower alluvial valley of the Atchafalaya River Basin, is related to a high-constructive delta. In contrast to these alluvial coals are the deltaic coal deposits of the Blackhawk Formation. The formation consists of three coal populations: upper delta plain, lower delta plain, and 'back-barrier'. Coals of the lower delta plain are thick and laterally extensive, in contrast to those of the upper delta plain and 'back-barrier', which contain abundant, very thin and laterally discontinuous carbonaceous shale partings. The reworking of the delta-front sediments of the Star Point Sandstone suggests that the Blackhawk-Star Point delta was a high-destructive system. ?? 1979.
Additional publication details
Coal depositional models in some Tertiary and Cretaceous coal fields in the U.S. Western Interior